Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Auto makers can take a big bite out of carbon-dioxide emissions that damage the atmosphere by aggressively implementing new technology between now and 2020, Stefan Knupfer, director and leader of automotive assembly for McKinsey & Co., reports at Thursday’s Management Briefing Seminars.

The international consulting firm has been compiling a comprehensive study entitled “The Road Toward a Low Carbon Future” since 2007, locking in technology then available as the study’s base year.

“The climate-change issue exploded that year, but automotive is just one segment of the problem,” he says.

However, automotive is perhaps the most visible and at the heart of the McKinsey research.

Knupfer says if the industry were to simply settle for technology “frozen” at the 2007 level, CO2 emissions would rise 20% by 2020. However, if new technology involving internal combustion and diesel engines, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles is successful, automotive CO2 emissions could be slashed 7% 11 years from now, he maintains.

Add gains in biofuels, improvements in traffic routing, consumer driving behavior to conserve energy and less overall driving, and CO2 levels from vehicles could be reduced 18% by 2020, the study indicates.

Among the major challenges facing auto makers is the need to expand the range and lower the cost of batteries, Knupfer points out.

“If we delay actions by five years, that could be the same as adding another year of CO2 to the problem,” he suggests.